Prehistory and the Sahara


    A MEETING of the International Commission for Study of the Prehistory of the Sahara, which was initiated by Prof. P. Rivet, and of which Sir Robert Mond is president, was held in Paris on June 27–30. It was attended by a number of distinguished archaeologists and others interested in the problems of the Sahara from France, Great Britain, Egypt, Italy, Tunis, Morocco and the Sudan. Numerous important communications, illustrated by lantern slides and exhibits, were presented and discussed in the sessions of the Commission. For the first time it was possible for the quaternary problem in the Sahara to be discussed as a whole, without reference to irrelevant political boundaries. Special stress, it would appear from a brief report in the Journal des Débatsof July 4, was laid on the geological and geographical unity of the Sahara as a whole from the Nile to the Atlantic, in which the conditions of development, of desiccation, and of life are subject to the same general laws, notwithstanding certain local divergences. Valuable comparisons of observations from west, centre and east were made, and various conclusions emerged. Among these, that from the early palaeolithic onward it was not possible to establish exact correspondence between Africa and Europe, and secondly that the succession of the large number of rock engravings and paintings in the Sahara continued down to modern times. The Commission, it will be seen, has thus made a substantial beginning in the important work of synthesis in Saharan studies. The results will appear in a volume, of which the publication has been guaranteed by Sir Robert Mond, who also entertained the members at luncheon at the close of the proceedings. It has been decided that the Commission will meet every fourth year, the business of the Commission in the interval being conducted by Mr. Harper Kelley at the Musée de l'Homme, Paris.

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    Prehistory and the Sahara. Nature 142, 284–285 (1938).

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